A few days ago I was sent a review request from a self-published author, I won’t tell you the book title because I want to leave that for my review. It got me thinking about authors who self-publish and the effect knowing a book is self published has on a readers perceptions of it before they read it. Personally I get quite interested in the idea of reading self published books simply because I think if someone has worked that hard to get their work published then they deserve some recognition, and I always hope that I will come across that one book which is a gem and really should have been published.
When I started thinking about the perception of readers my first thought was that most readers would look negatively on self-published books. I can see why, if publishers and agents didn’t see the good in a book (and lets face it some awful books have been published, and successful – *cough* Twilight *cough*) then how could readers hope to see it? Having said that the publishing industry is a commercial industry, it needs to make money, and maybe sometimes that means publishers don’t take risks, and maybe that means they are missing out on some fantastic books. Certainly authors talk of how long it took them to get published, including one of today’s most popular authors, J.K Rowling (of Harry Potter fame). Then there are the tales of popular books which started off as self-published books, The Shack by William P Young, Eragon by Christopher Paoilini, Still Alice by Lisa Genova and Necromancer by GP Taylor are amongst the most well known but there are more. They can count themselves amoung some classical greats, Virginia Woolf, William Blake, James Joyce, E. E. Cummings, Rudyard Kipling, D. H. Lawrence, Edgar Allan Poe, George Bernard Shaw, and Mark Twain were all originally self-published and their writings still live on. So maybe actually some self-published books are better than some successful company published books, after all some gainned similar popularity without the type of marketing that goes into lots of books published by publishing houses.
Indeed the road for a self-published author is littered with difficulties. I respect people who do it despite the problems. They must have real faith in their stories to go through it all (which may sometimes be misplaced, but lets give them the benefit of the doubt). It’s not something I could do, I don’t have enough faith in my own writing to spend all that money, time and effort to publish it, and just imagine how much harder it would be if something you had invested so much in was just never bought? So that’s the emotional difficulties, what’s next? Oh yeah getting your books actually in the stores. Online is easiest, for amazon e-books you simply have to upload your books but for Waterstones you need an ISBN, an approved publisher and to have your book listed with Neilson BookData, to have your book in Waterstones stores though they need a copy of your book to review and even if they do choose to sell it instore it might not be all stores. It’s easy to sell e-books at borders too, but paper books are another matter.Then of course there is actually getting that book sold in numbers, marketing takes more money and time, and it could be really difficult to get to the levels of publishing houses, especially if stores aren’t taking your book- no book tours.
So maybe us bloggers are the best people to be supporting self-published authors? We aren’t going to judge on whether we think a book will have mass appeal, just if it appeals to us, and if we love a book we can be its biggest champions.
Do you read self-published novels? Why? Have you found any gems out there? Do you think self-publishing is a viable option?